The brother of a 58-year-old developmentally disabled man is accused of draining his bank account of nearly $83,000 and using the money to buy a Richland home.
David M. Little, 53, told investigators he didn’t steal the money from his older brother but invested it in stocks and bonds to provide for his brother’s long-term needs.
On Wednesday, Little pleaded innocent in Benton County Superior Court to one count of first-degree theft. His trial is July 13.
A Tri-City bank manager initially tipped off Adult Protective Services to look into the situation. He said his bank branch had helped the man with paying his bills and other financial transactions for years because the man was unable to do it himself, and the manager apparently became suspicious after a major withdrawal in May 2014.
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An Adult Protective Services employee then contacted Kennewick police last August after discovering the victim’s money was gone.
During a visit with the Kennewick man, adult services employee Sally Wilkinson learned he had received a large sum of money a while ago and that his brother had taken care of it, court documents said.
The man reported that Little had said he wanted to secure the money for his brother to use in his old age, documents said. He believed the money was still in his bank account, but Wilkinson learned otherwise when she spoke to the bank manager.
Little and his wife reportedly went with his brother to the bank in July 2013, two months after the victim received an automatic deposit of more than $86,000.
Little asked for the couple’s names to be added to the man’s checking account, and said he wanted to open a savings account in his brother’s name but with Little as the primary account holder, court documents said.
Little claimed he wanted to “ensure that (his brother) continued to receive support from the state” and, when told he should speak with the bank’s trust department, Little became insistent that it be done as he wanted, documents said.
The manager reported that the older brother did not appear to know what was going on, and said “he does what he is told” when asked if he wanted Little on the accounts, court documents said.
A bank teller in May noted that all of the money had been taken from the savings account, so the next time the man was in he was asked about the withdrawal. The victim said he “didn’t know exactly, but he got in trouble for touching the money and was instructed not to touch it again,” documents said.
The manager looked into the withdrawal and found the victim’s name had been removed from his savings account a month or two before the money was taken. The withdrawal was completed by Little in another bank branch with a cashier’s check made out to a Mid-Columbia title and escrow company, court documents said.
Kennewick police Detective Marco Monteblanco then got a search warrant for records from that title company and found that the check was used to buy the new home in Richland.
Little allegedly told Monteblanco that he and his wife had invested the money so his brother’s Medicare would not be affected. He also said he is giving $1,000 a month to his brother.
In a follow-up interview with the bank manager, Monteblanco learned that the only money being deposited into the victim’s account is for Social Security and his paycheck from working at a retail store, documents said.
The victim allegedly told authorities that his younger brother had not asked him to buy a house on his behalf, and there were no plans for him to live with the Little family.
Little, who appeared in court with attorney Jim Egan, was allowed to remain out of custody without bail. He was given permission to travel throughout Washington state.